Posted: January 1, 2012, 9 a.m. EST
Q: I adopted two female ferrets about a year ago. I have never had female ferrets before, and they have very different behaviors. My girls have almost completely destroyed my $6,000 mattress. They continually dig at it. The get under the sheets and just lay there and dig away! They have taught my young, male ferret to do the same behavior. I have tried time-out in the cage (suggested by a ferret friend), but they go right back to it as soon as they get out of the time-out. I have sprayed many different deterrents on my mattress, and they seem attracted to it even more. I would move them out of my master bedroom, but I have no other options. They have done a lot of damage. If you have any suggestions that would help me save what is left of my bed, I would appreciate it.
A: Ferrets are naturally "diggers" and often find many unusual ways to practice this behavior. I suggest both management and offering a "safe" place to dig. There really isn't a failsafe way to teach ferrets not to dig unless you are with them each and every time they are near the mattress.
As soon as you notice your ferrets digging, redirect the behavior onto something more appropriate. You can also keep them off the bed and/or out of your room. Finally, offer them a place to dig that is safe and ferret-friendly. Children's play sand, biodegradable packing peanuts or even cat scratching posts can be helpful.
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